Located at the northernmost tip of North America, Newfoundland offers a vision of barren beauty that attracts half a million tourists each year. And after finding out the big island also has a 550-mile railway trail system that's open to motorcyclists, we couldn't possibly resist the lure of traveling there, either.
When our ferry arrives in Port Aux Basques all we see are a few houses and, yes, lots of barren rock. The ocean ride only took seven hours from mainland Canada, but it seems as though we've traveled much farther - the difference is so stark - and the feeling of remoteness is startling. The mouth of the ferry spits us out into the cool sea air. Small wooden houses, tucked between the water and brown slopes, are built low to better weather the fierce storms that roll in from Greenland. Very few people are to be seen. Some fishing boats are rocking in the waves.
Ramona and I have chosen to explore this unique place in a special way. The sixteenth-largest island in the world offers us an exciting route across the island - an abandoned railway line. It traverses 550 miles of nature only occasionally interrupted by small villages and towns.
Construction of the railway on this island Canadians call The Rock began in 1881, and the last train ran 107 years later. Afterward, the tracks were torn out and sold, with 130 bridges left spanning the wild rivers. Many have been fixed up with new wooden planks, and now the entire route is maintained as the T'railway Provincial Park, founded in 1997.